Category Archives: FOODIE FRIDAY

Foodie Friday: Christmas Time

For me Christmas time is about spending time with family.  Everyone coming together in one, glorious, noisy mess.  Laughing, shrieking, shouting, joking, playing card games and board games till all hours of the morning.  All of this happening around the dinner table, which should be filled with food… but that’s what I fear the most, cooking something that everyone will love.  Well, I asked Heidi to help!  A big thank you to Heidi, my Christmas Elf in the kitchen!

Ah, Christmas time…Christmas is all about love, family and togetherness, and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  We do this by exchanging gifts, spending quality time together and of course, by feasting on glorious food!

A sunny South African Christmas menu can include many different dishes and you can probably remember massive tables laden with ham, tongue, a million different salads and sides, chicken and perhaps even a turkey… That’s what my childhood Christmases were like in any case.  You might even have enjoyed a Christmas braai or 2…  Let’s face it, a traditional South African Christmas is a jolly, sunny affair, most probably spent outside by the pool or at the beach.

Now, when we look at all these traditional things… is a low carb Christmas style possible? Will it be boring? Should you even bother?

In short – yes and no!

Christmas is a celebration, it’s about being together with friends and family and sharing happy memories, good food and creating loving memories and there’s no reason to miss out on a delectable feast!

Having said that, as you know, I’m not a fan of trying to recreate ‘old’ favourites into new low carb treats – there are some that can easily be done and others that are best left alone.

I also prefer to keep things simple and focus on a few really outstanding dishes, rather than making hundreds…

Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

Christmas Snacks

Whether you’re hosting a Christmas get-together or attending one, you’ll need some snacks.

Choose something really delicious and impressive and make it special.  I would go for something like these pumpkin pie blinis – mini little bite-sized nibbles that’ll really make it feel like Christmas and a favourite at Changing Dream!

And do try a boozy eggnog too – it’s like a creamy custard drink, with brandy and it’s the best thing ever!

Or perhaps something a little more South African, bacon wrapped meatballs!

Christmas Mains

On to the main event – I’ve chosen roast chicken. Simply increase the amount of chickens for
every 6 people.  You could go the classic route of a roast turkey, but I feel that a roast chicken is perfect for a sunny SA Christmas – you can make it outside on the Weber or braai and rather add 1 more meat option.

How about a delicious pork belly roast?

Or keep things fresh and simple with a Festive Ham Salad as another main option!

Add a festive salad like this Fried Camembert Salad and you’re good to go!

Christmas Dessert

To end off a lovely meal, and because I’ve a bit of a sweet tooth – here are 3 winner dessert options.  Let’s start with a cheesecake, then coconut ice cream kisses and finish off with a triple chocolate tart!

Have a happy and blessed Christmas and remember what it’s all about – don’t spend unnecessary time stressing over food and slaving away in the kitchen – unless that’s your thing…

Keep it simple and remember that you don’t even need to tell everybody that your menu is low carb – simply let them enjoy the feast, because let’s face it, this is SO NOT a restrictive ‘diet’..!

P.S. As far as other drinks go – dry wine or bubbly is always the best option instead of sugary cocktails or other drinks mixed with sugary cool drinks.  Make sure you have plenty of sparkling water and add a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint for a refreshing drink.

Heidi Visser

 

 

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Foodie Fridays: The monstrous 21km!

Honestly, I’m still stuck at 10km runs!  Mostly, I’m doing 5km runs in the week and 1 longer run over the weekends (check out my post about exercise and infertility here).  I’ve been thinking about going longer, but obviously my first question is what to eat before and what to eat after.  Heidi just did a half marathon and she’s sharing her tips for the day and even giving us some healthy snack ideas, pre- and post-run!  Enjoy!

Half a marathon – that’s 21.1 km or 13.1 miles.  That’s quite far…  When you haven’t done one, you cannot quite comprehend the distance.  When you’ve done one, you can’t actually believe that you’ve just run that distance… When you’ve done maybe 2 or 3, you think you’re a seasoned half-marathoner…

So, there I was, recently, all ready for my half marathon, feeling just a tad nervous, but thinking ‘Hey, I’ve done this before, no biggie, plus I’ve been training really hard, etc, etc’…

Welllllllll, it turns out that if you’re not putting in the mileage (and I don’t mean running 3x a week for 8-10 km a pop) you’re in for a bit of a surprise.  I was doing really well up until 8 km {the distance of my normal training runs} and then I got tired.  And the hills became more difficult.  And it was hot.  And I was running by myself.

Ding-ding-ding, game over!

I won’t bore you with all my thoughts during the next 13 km, but let me just tell you, it wasn’t all very positive.  It’s amazing how your mind and attitude influences your game {whether it’s running, cycling, gym, whatever…} and I’m afraid it’s very difficult to bring yourself back after that first defeating thought.

Heidi’s 8 Top Tips for bringing your A-Game

  1. Be Prepared
    It doesn’t matter how psyched-up you are, if you haven’t done the training, you’re most probably going to fail. {Fail to plan; plan to fail}
  2. Start the Day on a Positive
    Don’t rush – allow yourself enough time for a coffee, breakfast and the drive there. Don’t have PMS-induced arguments…
  3. Eat (My speciality)
    You cannot do an endurance sport on an empty stomach. Don’t overeat though and be cautious of eating the wrong thing…

    • Choose something that is nutrient-dense and won’t leave you feeling too full and heavy.
    • Choose something that will keep you going for a while, seeing as you’ll probably be out there for a good 2 hours, burning off heaps of calories.
    • A good time to eat is an hour or so before your event
    • Grab a ‘top-up’ energy snack 15-30 minutes before. I absolutely cannot state the importance of this enough! Even though your body is now running on ‘diesel’ {fat instead of carbs}, you still need to nourish before an event. And especially for us women, you don’t want to find yourself out there, hungry and then turning to all the wrong sugary snacks along the way.
  4. Think Happy Thoughts
    Be positive and uplift yourself, but be careful of going into a daydream-state {stay away from La-La-Land…} Do NOT let that first negative thought even rear its ugly head!!!
  5. Have a Buddy
    It’s a good idea to run with someone with the same {or slightly faster} pace as you. You encourage and motivate each other.  It creates accountability, neither one wants to give up and fail the other one.  Also, training with a buddy is very helpful and important, even if you’re just part of a running club, motivating and pushing each other – that is worth so much.  Pace each other and yourself – run consistently.
  6. Take in the Scenery.  Just enjoy your surroundings.  Witness and enjoy the peace that running in nature brings.
  7. Be Aware
    Be aware of your stride – focus on running correctly (strengthen core, like previously discussed on this blog) and run optimally. Take note of other runners, perhaps something about them will motivate and/or inspire you.  And obviously watch your step too – you wouldn’t want to trip and fall
  8. Push Yourself
    This is the most important – even with all the training in the world, you still need to push yourself mentally and physically. If you’ve done all the other steps properly, believe me, it’s much easier to push yourself, and vice versa…  It is also important to know when to push harder and when to keep back a bit – it’s all in the pace

Snack Ideas

  • A banana {yes, it’s a fruit high in sugar and best avoided on a regular basis, but before a long run, it provides a great energy jolt and keeps you full}
  • Homemade granola bar or bowl of granola – loaded with calorie-dense seeds and nuts, this will provide a good, solid base and also keep you full. Add in coconut oil to make it even more filling, remember, organic coconut oil is a great source of Medium-Chain Triglycerides {MCT} which is basically fat that is very easily digestible and doesn’t need to be broken down to be used for energy. It’s instant energy.  Try my energy-boosting granola, it can even be made into bars, just add more coconut oil and press into a plastic container. Set in the fridge, then cut into bars.
  • Nutrition after your run is just as important, as running long distances can really take it out of you. Make sure to include lots of protein and green leafy veg, as well as slow-release low carb vegetable options such as sweet potato.  Try this incredible recipe!

So, what are you waiting for… Get moving!

Heidi Visser

 

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Foodie Friday: Coconut to the Rescue

I posted our concerns about dairy and today Heidi is giving us an alternative…  Take a look and let us know what you think?  Are you willing to try?

Let’s briefly continue our chat about dairy and then I’d like to introduce an alternative…  Have you given dairy up yet? Or tried to consume less dairy?  Do you feel any differences?

To recap from last week, diary is a great low carb fat source and makes cooking and prepping a whole lot easier and leaves you with a variety to choose from.  However, dairy doesn’t play nicely with everyone and particularly if you battle with PCOS or other fertility issues.  Dairy could also have an effect on weight loss (although published articles in peer reviewed journals are contradictory).

But how easy is it to actually give up dairy?  I’d like to introduce a major player in the LCHF lifestyle – and that is coconut.

Introducing Coconut

Coconut can be used in many forms and it’s an excellent source of healthy fat. In fact, coconut fat is 92% saturated fat and contains very little inflammatory Omega 6, which is what you want!

  • Milk:  Coconut milk and cream can be used as a substitute for dairy in a lot of recipes and even in your coffee!! It’s great in desserts too!
  • Oil:  Coconut oil is an excellent oil to use in cooking, as it is very stable at a high heat and will retain its structure and health benefits.  Most other oils break down into harmful components when exposed to very high heat.
  • Meat:  Coconut meat – dried or fresh – makes for a great snack and is mostly just fat and fibre.
  • Flour:  Coconut flour is a great baking substitute and can be used in many different ways.  {See previous Foodie Fridays post on baking substitutes}

Coconut Benefits

Coconut oil is high in Medium-Chain Triglycerides {MCT} which is basically fat that is very easily digestible and doesn’t need to be broken down to be used for energy. It’s instant energy.  It also aids in weight-loss by increasing your metabolic rate – yes please!  People with gallbladder problems can easily digest coconut oil too, because of these MCT’s.  Coconut oil is also shown to enhance thyroid function. This in turn stimulates the conversion of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol into the anti-aging hormones pregneonolone, progesterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). These valuable hormones not only aid in weight management, but also in preventing heart disease, senility, and other degenerative diseases. It is believed that coconut oil helps convert thyroid hormone T3 to T4, a big bonus for the thousands of people who have sluggish thyroid function that causes weight gain and inhibits weight loss.  Coconut fat is very high in antioxidants and even though it doesn’t contain any micronutrients, it does aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K.

Read your labels!

Beware though, that as with anything, not all coconut products are what they claim to be!  Read your labels.  Watch out for additives and stabilizers in tins of coconut milk and coconut cream – you want the purest form and please stay away from the ‘low fat’ varieties – because heaven knows, why would you go that route?!  When buying dried coconut, make sure it’s not sweetened. It should just be pure dried coconut.

Coconut oil…  There are many different varieties and brands out there and it’s really important to know the differences:

  • Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is your best bet and is very rich in antioxidants, but has a strong coconut taste.
  • Refined coconut oil has been processed to remove the coconut taste and doesn’t contain any antioxidants. It’s still a great cooking oil and stable at a high heat, it just doesn’t give you the added antioxidants…

I use both, because some food just doesn’t go well with a coconut taste.  Scrambled eggs for example…

Downside

So – yes, coconut is great but there are also a few downsides:

  • Additives in coconut milk: if you’re reacting to coconut milk with guar gum or carageenan in it, it might not be the coconut at all.
  • Coconut allergy. It’s always possible to be allergic to the stuff. Coconut isn’t a “nut” so many people with nut allergies can actually eat it just fine. But some people also have a particular allergy to coconut specifically.
  • Fat causing digestive problems. Yes, the same fats that have so many health benefits can have drawbacks too. Coconut oil in particular can cause diarrhoea if you suddenly start putting back a lot of it when you hadn’t been eating much before. If this is you, it often helps to start slowly and gradually work up to a higher consumption level.
  • Salicylates. Coconut is rich in salicylates, and some people react to them. Compared to cosmetics and medications, food provides a relatively small dose of salicylate exposure, but for people who are very sensitive, it might be enough to trigger symptoms.

I’ll end off with my recipe for a great morning cuppa – Bulletproof Coffee!  It will keep you full and provide a good dose of healthy fats to start off your day – get the recipe here… And remember, you can leave out the cream to make it dairy-free, and blitz it up with a stick blender – pure magic!

Bulletproof Coffee

Heidi Visser

 

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Foodie Friday: Dare to leave Dairy?

Like I’ve mentioned before… I have been reading about dairy and fertility quite a lot in the past few months and I found so many contradicting articles that I decided to start focusing on this for the next few weeks.  In our Foodie goes Primal series, Heidi has also mentioned dairy before, especially in the different forms of diets we follow.  So without any further ado, let’s start our focus on diary with a note from Heidi!

Dairy is a great source of good fat when following a low carb ‘diet’, HOWEVER, dairy consumption has different effects on different people and it also depends on your form and intensity of low carb living.   Allow me to explain:

  1. If you’re mostly worried about your carb intake and following a very strict keto or LCHF diet, full fat dairy is a good source of fat and it really makes food choices and cooking a whole lot easier!
  2. If you’re leaning towards a more Paleo or clean eating approach, then dairy really isn’t a great option.

Remember, one of the main differences between Paleo and LCHF/Banting is the use of dairy.  If you do have dairy, I would recommend the following:

  • DO: If you have dairy, only have it on occasion
  • DO:  Definitely stick to high fat, mature cheeses
  • DO: Remember to read your labels too – all dairy is not created equal!
  • DON’T:  Milk, even full cream, has a lot more sugar (lactose) than cream (which, like butter, is more of a fat than a dairy).
  • DO:  Rather opt for cream in coffee instead of milk.
  • DON’T:  Or at least try to avoid yoghurt, as that can also have quite a high lactose content.
  • DO: Go for double cream Greek-style yoghurt.

In our home, I really enjoy my cheese, and tend to stick to full fat, mature cheese. I rarely use milk, only in tea sometimes, and hardly have any yoghurt. This works for me, but each person is different.

Let’s do an experiment:  go without dairy for a week or two and see how you feel.

Is there a difference?  I don’t believe we were really meant to consume dairy after all…  If you dare to try the experiment, remember to give me your thoughts!  As always, leave me a comment below!

Heidi

 

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Foodie Friday: Leftovers to the rescue!

What if it’s just been one of those weeks?  And the motivation to cook healthy is just not there?  Don’t give up on healthy eating just yet!  A very dear friend of mine once told me, they have at least one dinner a week that’s mainly leftovers!  That tradition requires two things:

  1. Very good planning
  2. The power to repurpose

Heidi is here to help!  Foodie Fridays to the rescue!

It’s Friday again and this week has just been one hectic blur…  In busy times like these, I’m SO thankful for clever ideas to repurpose leftovers, but also for the power of a properly planned meal plan and prep day!

I don’t know about you, but I welcome any time-saver tips and tricks.

Meal planning and prepping is becoming ever more popular and it makes sense – instead of spending an hour every night on cooking dinner, rather consolidate and spend 2-3 hours on a Sunday (or whenever) and batch cook for the week! This also allows you to cleverly plan for leftovers and using them in new and creative ways.

My husband absolutely hates leftovers – he just won’t eat the same meal twice in a row or even twice in the same week. He’s spoilt like that…  Anyways, I hate wasting, so I often use leftovers in new dishes, without him even realising it – hehe… 😉

My plan of action includes the following:

  1. PLAN your menu for the week
  2. Get the recipes all in one place so it’s easy to access for when you do the cooking
  3. Write a shopping list according to your menu – and remember to include snacks, breakfasts and other bits
  4. Device a prep guide – see which dishes can be made in advance and where possible done in larger batches to be frozen for later, or just save time while cooking, e.g. if you’ll need 3 chopped onions for 3 different dishes, chop them all at once and just split them up, etc.
  5. Block out a 2-3 hour window on a weekend or quiet time that you can spend on prepping and cooking for the week ahead.
  6. Remember what we said last week, that having snacks on hand makes your life SO MUCH easier, especially with kids! It’s all about being prepared!

There are so many ways in which to use leftovers, but a few of my favourites include:

  1. Savoury mince / bolognese sauce – this can easily be used again in a bake or with eggs for breakfast. You can use it with egg wraps or make lettuce tacos – this is always a good leftover to have! I always cook a large batch so that there’s left over.
  2. Cooked meat – any cooked meat can be used in salads, bakes, etc.
  3. Salad bits – my favourite salads are a concoction of stuff in the fridge; bits of leftover chicken or other meat, cabbage, herbs, avocados, toasted seeds, etc.
  4. I also use leftover cooked veggies in salads
  5. Quiches – you can create a quiche out of pretty much any leftovers – just add whisked eggs, cheese and a splash of cream, bake and you’re all set!
  6. Leftover chicken – simply becomes chicken mayo (same with leftover fish)
  7. Another favourite of ours is to create little ‘picnic-style’ dinners from leftover bits. I use colourful ice trays for the kids and literally fill each compartment with a bite of something – they LOVE it!

If you’re in need of some more ideas / recipes for using up leftovers – have a look here! (http://foodiegoesprimal.com/?s=leftovers&submit=Search)

And for more info on meal planning and prep, click right here:   (https://talkfeed.leadpages.co/leadbox/146bf8af3f72a2%3A15ef2df48346dc/5728962252636160/)

Heidi Visser

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Foodie Friday: Kiddie Approved!

When we set out on a new health / lifestyle path, it’s often because we’ve made the wrong choices previously in our lives.  Not perhaps because we chose to, but we probably didn’t know any better.  In today’s day and age, we not only have the knowledge resources to educate ourselves, but also our kids!  We have to make sure they make the right food choices!  We also live in a time where kids {and all people} have more choices than ever and even more access to the wrong stuff… Yes, it’s scary, but I truly believe that if we instil a love for food and an understanding of quality, real ingredients in our kids, they might just be okay.

I have two boys and it is difficult to control what they do or don’t eat.  For us, low carb living isn’t just a diet that mommy’s on – it’s our lifestyle and we’re all committed to it.  Do we ever ‘cheat’ or ‘fail’? Yes, we do. But then we just carry on, on the right path. Healthy, low carb, is our normal.  With kids, there will be birthday parties, there will be school lunches or lunch boxes to pack, there will be tuck shop, friends, you-name-it…

I believe that there are parents out there that don’t realise all the hidden sugars and bad stuff in the food their kids eat (like Zelmia) – most don’t even give it a second thought, and although this really saddens me to my innermost core, it’s not really our place to advise other parents on their kids’ ‘diets’…

My advice

  1. Keep your home a real food, sugar-free, low carb environment.  Make the change today!
  2. Teach your kids about real food.
  3. Don’t stock any sweets (or other bad stuff) at home – it’ll just be a temptation, but do give them sugar-free, real food, dessert options on occasion.
  4. When possible, involve your kids in the cooking / prepping process.
  5. Feed them healthy fats that will keep them full and satisfied.
  6. Pack healthy, low carb, sugar-free lunch boxes – you will probably find that their school has a strict policy on sugar and sweets – that’s a good thing! Be glad.
  7. And be prepared – always have appropriate, healthy, filling snacks or nibbles on hand.
  8. When your kids attend birthday parties or play at a friend’s house – let them have some sweets {it’s really inevitable}, but do feed them a healthy, filling meal before they go. This will stop them from over-indulging. And if they still do, well, chances are they won’t feel great and perhaps next time they won’t indulge quite as much.
  9. Don’t use food as a reward.
  10. Don’t fall into the trap of making them finish all their food – if they don’t want to eat, they don’t have to. In our house, the rule is: they don’t have to finish their food, but meal time is meal time.  They can’t ask for something else shortly after meal time…  On the other hand, my boys, the eldest in particular {age 5}, are like worms, seriously, they can eat and eat and eat.  But they are not overweight, they really just have a healthy appetite and they really like veggies and good, healthy, real food, so Mommy is happy.
  11. Try NOT to buy fruit juice or other fizzy cold drinks – offer water, rooibos tea or milk {full cream}.

Snack Time

Some of my boys’ favourite snacks or in-betweeners (or you can even use these for picnics) include:

  • Quiches – crustless, obviously – I make them in a variety of flavours, sometimes as individual little ‘muffins’, sometimes as a ‘pizza tart’, etc. They love these – hot or cold!
  • Cauli bites
  • Meatballs
  • Boiled eggs {my youngest is NOT a fan, but the other one can eat 3 in one go!}
  • Carrots – oh my goodness, they’re like bunnies with their carrots, they love the stuff! Just plain raw.
  • Cheese – they prefer mozzarella cheese as opposed to cheddar
  • Seed crackers
  • Cold meat & cheese roll-ups or just plain cold meats
  • Small apples
  • Bacon, bacon and more bacon
  • Plain, double cream Greek-style yoghurt
  • Strawberries
  • Nuts – pretty much any variety

A Few Ideas

Here are some #KidApproved meal ideas from my blog:

(http://foodiegoesprimal.com/category/kiddies-meals-low-carb-kids-recipes/)

And some more specific snack ideas:

(http://foodiegoesprimal.com/category/low-carb-snacks/)

I suppose I’m lucky, in that my kids eat most of the things we do, but then again, I’d like to think it’s because they’re raised in a house where we appreciate and love real food.  With my youngest, it can sometimes be a bit trickier, as he really loves his bread and carbs… I always make sure I have the things that HE really enjoys too. I also try and disguise the things he doesn’t like to eat, such as eggs – he actually LOVES his quiches… So!  The biggest thing really is to be prepared and have appropriate snacks on hand!

Enjoy cooking with your little ones!

Heidi Visser

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Foodie Friday: It’s Party Time!

Here in South Africa we are celebrating Heritage Day tomorrow (24 September) and as South Africans, we like to braai, entertain and spend the day eating …  That is also true for my family and our previous parties always included potatoes, chips (or crisps) as snacks, mielie soufflé (with loads of sugar) and heaps of garlic bread!  However, since last year, I’ve changed my lifestyle, how am I going to do this event “low carb” style and still keep it interesting for all my guests?  Never fear, Heidi is here to help!

Heritage Day is tomorrow and as South Africans, we like to braai, entertain and spend the day eating…  How does that fit in with my new, healthier lifestyle?  Well, it need not be a stressful event – in fact, I always find great satisfaction when I host a get-together and everything is really healthy AND super tasty! It’s almost as if people don’t expect the two to go together… But, think about it, if you’re having a braai, you basically need to worry about a meat source or two and a couple of salads or side dishes and then a few snacks (even a healthy dessert, if you wish).

It really needn’t be a buffet of meats with 50 different side dishes – I cringe at this – go for quality rather than quantity.  Choose meats such as steak or chops that is simple to cook and require only the basic of seasoning to bring out the best flavour.  Decide on no more than 2 salads or side dishes to best complement these main attractions.  And as always KEEP IT REAL!

If you’re thinking of making a dessert, opt for a sugar-free one. A luscious ice cream will go down a treat on a hot Saturday!  Here are some ideas:

http://foodiegoesprimal.com/category/dessert-low-carb-treats/

Make your guests feel welcome and have a few snacks on hand – hosting a low carb / real food party doesn’t need to be a dull, drab affair! Who needs store-bought stuff full of junk when you can effortlessly whip up amazing and tasty, healthy food..?!  Here are some snack ideas:

http://foodiegoesprimal.com/category/low-carb-snacks/

A few ideas for your main attraction:

http://foodiegoesprimal.com/2016/02/22/loaded-lamb-chops/

http://foodiegoesprimal.com/2015/12/23/lamb-rib-with-chimichurri-sauce/

http://foodiegoesprimal.com/2015/09/16/cheese-stuffed-burgers-wrapped-in-bacon/

http://foodiegoesprimal.com/2014/10/13/the-perfect-steak/

Happy Heritage Day, Braai Day or just another fabulous party!

xxx

Heidi Visser

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Foodie Friday: Sweet Tooth?

So, you’ve decided to follow a healthier lifestyle and make better food choices – but can you still have your cake and eat it too?

Why yes, yes, you can!

Thank goodness there are natural sweeteners and other substitutes out there to fulfil our need for something sweet every now and then.  Some great, natural sweeteners that are perfectly fine to use and that won’t spike your blood sugar include:

  • Xylitol
  • Stevia
  • Erythritol

Yes, sugar is also natural, but it is so very bad for you, because of the blood sugar spike it causes.  Avoid sugar at all cost – and do look out for it hidden in all processed foods!  Right, so these sweeteners all differ in sweetness and strength and they won’t act exactly the same as sugar in a dessert.

Xylitol is the most like sugar in taste, however I find it much sweeter and would use half of the amount of sugar.  Be aware though, that xylitol is poisonous to animals, so in an animal household, it’s risky to use…

Stevia has a very sweet, very specific taste – I’m personally not a fan – and you would use about a knife-tip amount for every 1 tsp sugar equivalent.

Erythritol is also very similar to xylitol and can be used in the same ratios.

Try and avoid other, chemical sweeteners, even if they are low in carbs, it’s just not Real Food.  But that is just the sweetener part, what about flour substitutes in baked desserts?

This is a tough one, because there are plenty of substitutes such as nut and seed flours, but they do NOT act the same as wheat flour. The most commonly known and used nut flour is almond flour and it is one of the most versatile low carb ingredients.  It is not so simple as taking a conventional recipe and swapping almond flour in for wheat flour. Almond flour lacks gluten, a protein found in wheat that helps baked goods rise and hold their shape. It also has much higher fat and moisture contents than wheat. All of these factors need to be considered when making an almond flour recipe.  Almond flour recipes typically require more eggs and more leavening agent to help them rise properly. Almond flour recipes may also contain less oil and liquid as well, to account for the high fat content of the nuts.

Coconut flour is a different beast altogether from nut flours, and is actually the by-product of coconut milk production.  The trick to working with coconut flour is accepting the fact that it requires a lot of eggs to give it structure and a decent consistency. It can be a little shocking to see half a dozen to a dozen eggs in a recipe, but as you try it out, you will see that it works. The end results are rarely too eggy or rubbery. You will also be surprised to see how little coconut flour is used in most recipes. It’s incredibly dense, but expands remarkably with the added eggs and liquid, so you typically only need about a third of the amount you would need with conventional flour or nut flours.

Always start with some tried and true low carb baking recipes to get a feel for these new ingredients.  The best {and easiest} sugar-free desserts to stick to, that will be most satisfying and ‘real’ are things like cheesecakes, ice creams, chocolate mousse…  Desserts that require the least changes.

And then of course CHOCOLATE!!!  Dark chocolate – 70% and higher – is an excellent treat! It’s good for you, with all sorts of anti-oxidants, etc, and also very low in sugar, naturally.

A word of caution though – if you’re really addicted to sugar, then even a low carb, sugar-free dessert will have you craving sugar.  It’s that sweet taste that can often trigger our sugar cravings, and it’s a slippery slope from there.

For some great sugar-free, low carb dessert recipes – please visit: http://foodiegoesprimal.com/category/dessert-low-carb-treats/

Heidi Visser

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Foodie Friday: Organic? Free Range? Pastured?

One of my biggest challenges was to research hormones in my food, containers and water and how to avoid it.  The first questions I had were:  what is organic, what is free range and what is the difference?  How do I get gluten free stuff and what is gluten?  What is grass fed and grain fed and what is the difference? And maybe most important of all:  CAN I TRUST THE LABEL?!  Heidi helps to explain!

It’s easy to get confused when looking at food labels! All the ingredients, the nutritional breakdown, labels containing buzz words like ‘organic’, ‘gluten free’, ‘free range’, etc.  And that’s just in general – never mind whether or not you’re trying to follow a low carb or other specific lifestyle / diet. In my opinion, the less official labels a food item has, the better. I mean, eggs are eggs, right?! Well, yes and no, let’s look at a few definitions…

Free range

This simply means that chickens have access to open land, where they can roam free and eat bugs, grass and whatever else they need. Note:  this doesn’t mean that they actually do… And often that ‘free, open space’ is not very large.  Actual free range or rather pastured hens {this really means that they actually do roam around free, as nature intended} will produce much more nutritious eggs with a really bright yellow yolk. These eggs contain a big variety of minerals, vitamins and good fats, as the hens’ diets are completely natural and varied.  Free range chickens can still be grain-fed too, especially if they don’t have access to large open spaces where they really can roam free and get all the food they need.  Their diet then gets supplemented with grains and those can contain hormones, especially if the hens receive specific feed to increase egg production.

Organic

This terms gets used very loosely!  Organic products are made without synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, and has not been genetically modified in any way and that no artificial or harmful chemicals or antibiotics have been used in growing or raising that product…

“Organic would imply that not only are the animals reared on pasture that has no pesticides etc but in addition, the food given to the animals has been grown in pesticide-free conditions and without unnatural chemical pesticides and growth promoting agents in the soil,” says SA representative for Compassion in World Farming, Louise van der Merwe.

Grass-fed vs. Grain-fed

Grass-fed animals are pasture-raised, meaning they eat a natural diet of grass and bugs {in the case of chickens – they are NOT vegetarian!} where they roam freely and/or their supplemental feed is free from animal by-products and they’re not treated with any antibiotics or hormones.  Grain-fed animals are kept in feed-lots and fed a grain-based {genetically modified grains and soy} diet with hormones to fatten them up quickly.

The take-away

So, here is what you should take from this:  Know where your food comes from, if possible, and don’t be misled by buzz words on labels. Know what they mean!  If possible, buy free range, organic and grass-fed, but think about this first:  If you’re buying free range eggs from a large supermarket chain and the yolks are really pale – ask yourself whether or not they truly are ‘pastured’? Probably not.  You might as well be buying regular eggs from grain-fed chickens and save yourself a buck or two.  OR, if you can, buy eggs from a local farm, farmers’ market or a reputable supplier.

Source meat from a local farmer who can guarantee that the meat is pastured and organic.  When you go this route, you will probably need to buy in bulk, but it will cost a whole lot less than buying from a supermarket chain. Even compared to grain-fed meat!  Otherwise, again, buy the free range if you can, or visit a local farmers’ market or butcher.

My scepticism regarding organic veggies is huge…  I mean, when I grow my own veggies – naturally organic – they really don’t look nearly as perfect and beautiful as the organic veggies in the shops!  So, unless you know for a fact that your local green grocer or farmers’ market supplies real organic veggies, then you’re probably better off just buying regular fruit and veggies…  If cost is not a factor, well then by all means go for the organic, but you might be getting the same regular veggies with a fancy label!

Another term that I’d like to tackle, is ‘gluten-free’, although it doesn’t really impact on a low carb lifestyle.  Products often get labelled as gluten-free, making the consumer think that it’s all-natural and good and pure.  For example, gluten-free breads and the like will have so many other chemical ingredients to compensate for the lack of gluten {to make the product work}, that you’re actually getting in far worse things than gluten!

My motto remains – Eat Real Food!!  Buy the best you can afford and read labels!

You’ll be surprised to come across lots of nasties in something as innocent as minced meat or hamburger patties for that matter, or even sausages!  Keep it simple and try to avoid ready-made or packaged items of any kind.  If time is of the essence, choose wisely and again, look at ingredients, READ LABELS!

Sources

http://www.health24.com/Diet-and-nutrition/Food-safety/Free-range-organic-grass-fed-do-you-know-what-youre-eating-20120721

Organic vs. Natural? Grass-Fed vs. Free-range?

http://www.curezone.org/forums/am.asp?i=414103

Heidi Visser

Heidi and I would like to mention a few suppliers:

  1. For chicken I like to use “BDG Vars Plaas Produkte (PTY) LTD” {Reg no. 2014 / 030763 / 07}, in Sinoville, Pretoria, South Africa. Contact: Bernice Botes 0822141973 or Farmingthroughgrace@gmail.com
  2. My pilates instructor uses just-meat.co.za for all beef requirements.

Heidi recommends the following:

  1. Country Meat (countrymeat.co.za)
  2. Bazaruto fish shop (Centurion and Groenkloof, http://www.bazarutogk.co.za/)

 

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